Scoring films with Spitfire Audio’s library and Abbey Road One
Film scoring is a subject that captivates our students who are passionate about film and the impact sound has on the audience’s experience of motion picture. We have all experienced the immense power that music has to create emotion, influence its audience to feel suspense, joy, pace and rhythm throughout a story. Some of the greatest composers for film Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer and John Williams have a rich history that is intertwined with Abbey Road and inspires the next generation of composers.
With the launch of our partnership with Spitfire Audio, we took some time to sit down with upcoming film composer and student, George Papadopoulos. George gives us an insight into his fascination with and enthusiasm for scoring, how he uses Spitfire Audio’s library as an integral tool for composition and the exciting development of Pianobook.
Hi George, tell us about your background in music.
I joined the Music Production course in June 2021, right after finishing a Masters Degree in Film and Mixed Media Composition. I am also a classically trained pianist with a Bachelor Degree in Applied Music. The past year has been incredibly fruitful, despite the difficulties introduced by the pandemic. I scored the music for the full-length documentary Palimpsest (New York, 2020) on behalf of Checkerboard Film Productions.
Also, my score for the animated film “Tale of Water” made it to the official selection of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
What other scoring projects have you been working on?
I have been professionally composing music for various media projects including theatrical performances, short films and jingles for the last 5 years.
In 2019 I met and started collaborating with the acclaimed pianist Vassilis Varvaressos. Together we formed Yellow Garden and started working together as a film scoring duet.
Since the beginning of our collaboration, Spitfire Audio libraries are always to be found in our scoring templates.
Specifically for the Palimpsest documentary, due to covid restrictions, we were unable to record the score. Therefore we had to completely rely on sound libraries for the final cut. The score is almost entirely piano-based and we had to experiment a lot with an enormous amount of sampled pianos to achieve the desired result. Spitfire’s Pianobook ended up being amongst our main resources for the score.
Where does your passion for film scoring come from?
Film scoring and sound design have always been two very fascinating areas of creation for me. I guess this is mainly due to the fact that they continuously push you to stretch your creativity limits in order to create the sonic identity that the director sees fit for this new story to take place. This neverending exploration of new audio textures and sound pallets is what brings the world of composition and sound engineering into unity and perfectly describes my artistic identity. It’s the journey of storytelling through sound.
How does Spitfire Audio feature in the work you’re doing on the course?
Spitfire Libraries are always a great companion to my workflow, whether I am creating a demo or delivering a finished project to be released. What I find exceptionally helpful specifically for the needs of this course, is that they allow equally for a quick orchestral sketch and for a detailed arrangement. As an example, the BBC symphonic orchestra library is my go-to for our weekly scoring exercises. For these assignments, we have to deliver a small reel on a weekly basis for our music theory and orchestration class. Due to the course being so intense you have to do your best within a very small time limit. BBC orchestra comes with the different instrument sections prearranged and panned. That way a quick sketch sounds already balanced and cohesive, ready to be placed against the picture on short notice.
Apart from my work for the course, I am currently working along with my partner in Yellow Garden, Vassilis Varvaressos on a new score for the short film “Abyss”. More details on that are to be announced soon.
What are your top three features from the Spitfire Audio sample library?
Apart from the detailed sound and the user-friendly interface, I guess my favourite thing is the fact that they keep evolving and exploring new territories, which makes their products always so current to the modern industry’s demands. You can definitely tell that from their Albion Series. The first instalment back in 2011 captured the sound of a large-scale symphonic orchestra with a very “classic” layout in terms of orchestration, perfectly corresponding to the Hans Zimmer-esque style that was established through his Dark Knight scores at the time.
As modern scoring is now shifting to a more textural and minimalistic approach, Spitfire recently released Albion Neo enabling composers around the world to have access to all sorts of exciting textures all from the comfort of their own home. Last but not least, is the fact that apart from the sampling of various instruments and ensembles, they expand in terms of recording spaces through the new instalments of BBC and Abbey Road One libraries. I believe it’s every composer’s dream to have access to the iconic sound of these rooms within his template.
Is there something that you’d like to see in the Spitfire audio library that’s not there yet?
I can not say there is something that I miss, but I am definitely looking forward to what comes next!
You mentioned that you’re also using Pianobook as well. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I find Pianobook to be an amazing initiative. This is because it has both a creative and an educational aspect. For those unfamiliar with it, Pianobook is an online platform created by Spitfire Audio where individuals can freely upload and download instruments they have sampled. It provides a revolutionary/radical approach to creative co-existence. This thought derives from the fact that so far people could share loops and individual sounds on different platforms across the internet, but not fully captured and ready to go DIY instruments. With home recording being so much more approachable these days, sound enthusiasts around the globe can very efficiently capture and sample their instruments. To me, this is also reminiscent of the very beginning of audio recording where studios did not yet exist and therefore audio recordists had to record artists and their instruments in situ. Therefore the space in the final recording was a crucial element that formed the final outcome and made it unique. With that in mind, I find the fact that I can access the home piano of a composer based in Australia within a couple of mouse clicks really inspiring. Borders cease to exist and creativity starts to flow!
As for the educational aspect, Pianobook is essentially an exceptional resource for those who are just starting composing and can not afford the expenses of owning sampled libraries yet.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I would love to continue making music for the media. Therefore the field of post-production seems to be the next logical step for me. For now, though, I am maintaining my focus on the world of engineering and production. I want to make the most out of this amazing experience alongside my extremely talented classmates. There’s a lot of new music to be released in the next few months so stay tuned!
Thank you, George! To find out more about George’s work head to the Yellow Garden website. Find out more about Spitfire Audio on their website. If you’re curious about our students who specialise in film scoring, head to our interview with Laura Iredale. Discover our new Audio Post Production Diploma here. And, if you’re a podcast fan, check out Blindboy on Dane Baptiste Questions Everything, where Dane and Blindboy discuss the power of film soundtracks and What Does Music Mean To You.